Potty Training 101: Dos and Don’ts

September 18, 2014
potty training, toddler, toilet training, mummy wars

When it comes to the agony and ecstasy of potty training, repeat after me: “Motherhood is not a competitive sport”. For on your journey to a nappy-free existence, you will most likely encounter some annoying, if well-meaning, characters along the way.

See, everyone likes to bombard mothers with advice, so you may find yourself having to put your amour (emotional) on to do battle with say a pushy mother-in-law, friend or acquaintance who insist it’s high time your beloved toddler was toilet-trained.

I staunchly ignored such peer/family pressure until I was sure my child was developmentally ready just shy of her third birthday. Some children are, of course, ready before this age and many go later, but I followed my GP’s advice not to pressure our little toilet-training tot and instead wait until she was physiologically and emotionally ready to hit the potty.

Both my GP/daycare carers did say age three was a prime potty-training age, but again I would listen to your own child and await their cues. Ignore other mothers/MILs who will happily sabotage your efforts by saying oh-so-helpful things like: “My Johnny was toilet trained before he could speak etc…”

Don’t buy into the ridiculous “mummy wars” and compare, compete and/or feel anxious. Your toddler’s well-being is all that matters and he/she needs to be motivated to want to do it for starters. You will also want and need to be as positive, relaxed and motivated as your small person. In addition, toddlers have to develop control over their bladders and anal (sphincter) muscles in order to be ready for toilet training. Control only comes from maturation of the central nervous system.

Next up, your little person has to be able to physically get their kit off and verbalise when they want to go to the toilet.

So, what do you do now? Child experts say to physically demonstrate “positive toileting” to your eager and curious tot, who can then mimic your actions, including the all-important wiping from the front-to-the-back to avoid infection, if they are a girl. Here are some other handy hints:

potty training, toddler, toilet training, mummy wars

Potty Training Do’s

  • Embrace nappy pants or pull-ups: When starting out, you might want to play it safe. And while research isn’t conclusive about how beneficial nappy pants are in aiding toilet training, they will safeguard against accidents while your little person makes the transition to cotton undies and starts enjoying some potty successes.
  • Give praise and encouragement: Our little lass’s toilet training efforts have been boosted by “big girl” presents such as Dora the Explorer cotton undies and this equally ridiculous-looking and cute Royal Stepstool Potty (pictured above) by Fisher Price. We also give her stickers and high praise after each potty success, even belated mentions, as it takes practice for kids to recognise signs of impending bladder and bowel movements and make it to the potty in time.
  • Prompt your child regularly: Prompt your little person to go independently at the start. Ask often, perhaps every hour, if your child needs to go to the toilet. At first, you might be better at detecting your toddler’s bodily signals than he/she is. Even if you’re too late and he/she’s already done the deed, have them sit on the potty anyway to reinforce the connection.

Potty Training Don’ts 

  • Never punish, nag or shame: Be careful of your body language as children are very perceptive. You are your child’s cheer squad so play nice. Punishment for an accident is not cool and never OK.
  • Don’t expect too much too soon: Toilet training can take time, so be patient. If your expectations are unrealistic, you could diminish your child’s self-confidence. Our little lass now loves the potty and child experts say your toddler will realise, sooner or later, that it really is better to use the potty than wear nappies.
  • Don’t put pressure on them: Motherhood is not a race so wait until your child is ready. Some child experts claim putting pressure on a child to toilet train too early can lead to bed wetting.

Main image via www.girlsonthegrid.com and secondary image via www.moosterbaby.co.uk.

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